Backlash over Austin's absence grows as House Republican plans impeachment
Austin was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for much of last week after complications from a surgery, a situation that went undisclosed to the public for most of the week and of which the White House was reportedly unaware.
Montana Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale plans to introduce articles of impeachment against Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin over his unannounced absence due to hospitalization.
The Republican plans to bring the articles on Tuesday, Fox News reported.
"Sec. Austin knowingly put the American people in danger and compromised our national security when he allowed a spy balloon from a foreign adversary to fly over Malmstrom Air Force Base – home to ICBMs – and allowed the Chinese Communist Party to gather intel on American citizens," he told the outlet.
Austin was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for much of last week after complications from a surgery, a situation that went undisclosed to the public for most of the week and of which the White House was reportedly unaware. Amid mounting calls for his resignation or termination, Biden administration officials have insisted he will stay on.
But Republicans have vowed to investigate the matter. Speaking on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show on Monday, Ohio GOP Rep. Max Miller characterized Austin's undisclosed absence as "on brand" for the administration, saying "we need to make sure that every American really familiarizes them with themselves of how serious that this actually is."
"The Deputy Secretary of Defense was out vacationing in Puerto Rico, and then she didn't even know she was running the Department of Defense at the time. How upsetting is that?" he asked. "So who was running the Department of Defense in Secretary Austin's absence? That's a big question that we have to ask for about a three day period, as they didn't even let the White House know."
"I mean, what else is this administration hiding with President Biden, with Kamala Harris and all these cabinet secretaries that think they don't have to notify the American people? If you run our defense, I have so many questions that need to be answered," he fumed. "And I know other legislators do as well. And make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this."
"I hope Secretary Austin is doing okay, but at the end of the day, look, they need to answer -- this is absolutely insane," he exclaimed. "Could you imagine under President Trump, if you know, the Secretary of Defense all the sudden didn't tell anyone that he was in charge? And then the [deputy secretary] didn't know. I mean, the media would go to town on us. And once again, they continue to give this guy and the Biden administration a pass on every single mess up and screw up that they do."
Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.